Double strikes by Gregg McFaul and Craig Todd underpinned Ballyclare Comrades Reserves’ 7-2 win against Antrim Rovers.
Rovers had home advantage at Antrim Forum for this Ballymena Junior League Division 1 fixture, but they never recovered from conceding three unanswered first half goals.
The win stretched the Wee Reds’ lead at the top to ten points, owing to nearest rivals Mallusk Athletic having no game, but Newington YC II with several games in hand could pose a serious threat to manager Ronnie Burns’ title aspirations.
McFaul was early on to the scoreboard when his header from a cross by skipper Kyle McCauley cross entered the net via the underside of the bar, and later McFaul doubled his tally after being played in by Jamie McMillan.
Rovers were well in the game forcing Ross McKnight to make several fine saves to preserve a first half clean sheet, but Mark Shannon from the senior squad made it 3-0 at the break, when he drilled a free in to the top corner of the net.
Rovers’ efforts were rewarded when they scored twice during the third quarter with two well worked goals, forcing assistant manager Andrew Higginson to make a tactical change, switching his formation to 4-4-2.
This paid dividends with McMillan sliding in to convert a Shannon cross, before Scott Cummings made it 5-2 , when he won the one-on-one confrontation with the keeper.
Craig Todd earned super-sub status in the final stages when he came off the bench to blast in a quick brace, with the impressive Shannon the provider on each occasion, but it was Gregg McFall who was named Man of the Match.
“This was a banana skin clash with a strong physical side, but our lads produced their best performance of the season and were worthy winners,” said Higginson.”In the first half in particular we were brilliant, and then they showed some steel to reassert their authority, after Rovers scored two quick goals just after the interval,” he added.
Comrades Reserves: McKnight; Davidson, McCauley (C), Gault; Robinson, B Crowe, Clarke, Shannon, McFaul; McMillan, Cummings. Subs: Burke, Todd, K Woods.
Saturday’s league fixture is away to Carnmoney FC.